I read her books when I was still a child – not all of them but quite a few and then in 1985 That film and everyone knew about her.
The question for me is why the interest – her house and history was preserved locally quite a while before the film was made and draws thousands of visitors annually.
In a nutshell, wealthy Danes came to make a fortune for themselves off Kenyan land first with cattle and then decided to switch to coffee – in both instances without research. This was not coffee ‘land’ and the going was tough. Husband left and continued hunting; new man arrived and things improved till it ended.
I’m talking of course about Karen Blixen (Dinesen) – Out of Africa – who declared bankruptcy and returned to Denmark to write her books.
Out of the nutshell, so to speak, there is clearly a mystique about her life that has Kenyans and the rest of the world enthralled.
I visited her home today ( no photos allowed inside – watch the film if you want to see inside) – it is exactly as it was, but the gardens are lovely.
One can no longer see the Ngong hills
And the home is in the middle of suburbia (called Karen) but 6 acres is a national monument
A very early start saw me leaving an ordered, green and remarkable Rwanda and land in an Africa I am more familiar with – yellow ‘veldt’
Nairobi – (Kenya – 40 mill people) feels like they all live here
Somewhat chaotic airport process, damaged bag 😥, and finally my guides.
The streets are a madhouse, it took us hours to move hardly anywhere and this is Sunday! They (the streets) have the familiar littered look and the pavements ( nature strips) are non existent.
Car Windows are kept closed against theft and I wouldn’t put my nose outside the hotel alone.
Lunch at an outdoor restaurant which claimed wifi (didn’t work) was fairly average (very) and took almost an hour to produce – smiles abound but the energy and sense of productivity I sensed elsewhere is absent here.
This is I acknowledge only my first day – the jury must remain open
I am travelling in luxury a 8 seater Nissan (or maybe Toyota ) something – just me and when we arrived at the game park up went the roof, into the back went I and stood up feeling like the pope 😳 – able to look all around without the sun burning my head or the rain destroying my hairdo 😀😀
We left Nairobi this morning and arrived at lake Nakuru for lunch – an extravagant luxury resort looking down on the lake – my bathroom as big as my lounge at home snd the bedroom – well almost the size of my house 😂😂😂
As to game – we go back to that ‘benchmark’ I referred to earlier. If like me you were lucky enough to ‘cut your teeth’ in the delta, Zim and mkuze etc in the 70’s you have a different benchmark from many :
We have seen good birds, zebras by the hundreds, Impala too – a lovely rich orange colour when compared to ‘ours’; Thomsons gazelle ( also deep orange) waterbuck; huge trios of vervet monkeys, Colobus monkeys and hundreds and hundreds of buffalo.
I am told there are both black and white rhino here. They have obviously learnt to keep well out of view of poachers ( and everyone else) so for the moment I must take ‘their’ word for the presence of rhino
I remember when we used to see so many rhino we stopped looking at them and a nagging thought would not leave me today couldn’t
‘would a time come for zebra
or buffalo when we say the same? ‘
We saw them :
5 white rhino as happy as can be –
no photos sadly it was pouring and the light poor.
One rhino had the longest horn I have ever seen – he/she looked like she belonged in one of the photos you see of rhinos in 19 century with those long thin horns that font look real – amazing sight
The rest of the game was damp and subdued as you can see 😀
Thankfully back on the left hand side and interestingly enough while the roads are chaotic – (took us over an hour to go 7 km this morning )- can’t imagine how one conducts business here 😜….
It kind of works- no one goes fast so even though we pass on a blind rise I soon stopped holding my breathe as I realised every one is slow and slows down further to allow whatever the other chooses to do 😂😂😂.
Cars inch in to the queue so tightly I can almost feel the drivers breathe on me, but no collision – we seem to be able to make room without any reaction from my driver
Trucks trucks and more trucks on roads that are reminiscent of Jan smuts avenue 😂 potted, cracked and crumbling
There are roads and then there is the Masai Mara ‘road’ – who would have thought – the main road into this famous reserve to which hundreds of thousands of dollars have been donated by international sources.
And I, in a misspent youth have been on some roads – stuck for seven days; winched out; pushed out; even walked out and left the car to be towed back : but they were back roads in the 70’s
Not a main road in 2016 where tourism is the prime source of income
I tried to capture on video some of what it has been like – but mostly just had to hang on. It took us 4 hours to do 70 km – the whole journey from lake Nakuru to Masai Mara was a long 6 hours beginning at 7am. We saw 3 tourist vehicles breakdown – poor souls
The only explanation being offered so far is “the government – people in government own the planes that fly in so they don’t want the road repaired in case people will stop flying”.
I almost wished I had flown in – but then I would never have known ……
There are 3 points where the road has totally disappeared ( look at the washed away bridge) where the Maasai have blocked any alternate route with a barrier and demand payment to go through – or you can turn back
Poor Livingstone – my guide driver – this was a challenge 😩
National geographic and David Attenborough have done a great sell on the Masai Mara and the proud Masai. After a day in the park I I have mixed feelings about the It.
Livingstone, my guide went to the gate to pay leaving me to ‘cover’ the vehicle and be accosted ( no other word will adequately describe it) by not one or two but ten or twelve Masai women desperate to sell me blankets, trinkets, statues and no seemed not to be part of their vocabulary. I feel for them but at the same time there was a surliness and slightly unpleasant feel to it all.
After 30 minutes – yes 30 I couldn’t stand it any longer and left the vehicle to walk (storm may be more accurate) to the office :
“What’s taking so long”
“The machine, his slow”
39 minute slow? Not my problem. Give me our money back and we’ll go or let us through now or I will be complaining to the parks board
Guess what – our tickets appeared!!!!!
Something is amiss – this is the only bridge across the river of one of the most famous reserves in the world. There is no shortage of tourists paying big entrance fees. It has been like this for 5 years and when guides protested three years ago and put out photos on social media they were arrested and fined Kenyan shillings 300 000 each. The guides collectively paid the fines for them – still the bridge remains.
That aside, we saw good game today including lion, hippo and elephant. We also saw Nissans, Toyotas, land rovers in droves and they tell me this is the quiet season !!!!! It was like Burke Str (Eloff St for others😜).
I am in a ‘luxury resort’ with no reference books of any sort; where you pay for water (cannot drink the tap water,) and everything seems just a little ‘tired’ and not well loved. Still the adventure continues happily – life never being dull if you me – an 8 hour game drive tomorrow so I shall ‘report back’ then.
Cold here – have not taken my down jacket off all day
The CB radio is like white sound in the vehicle – voices talking loudly non stop and when we congregate at a lion or rhino they all sound together – a cacophony of modern technology
– perhaps I was the only one who noticed?
Miles and miles of open plains. The great herds gave left ( not sure if I should be pleased or not – with the herds come hordes if you know what I mean). The views are lovely.
Lunch on a rug – all very civilised until I stood up with a wet you know what – the ground is sodden everywhere.
It has rained each afternoon so we went exploring to visit a very upmarket camp where we had coffee, and drove back in comfortable silence with the windows wide open
There is nothing as lovely as the bush just after rain – the buck twitch their ears, the birds call, the air has a smell that fills lungs with joy – unique; everything is washed new – well actually the roads were washed not new but totally away 😂 but we won’t spoil the story
And then just as I was thinking how perfect – the heavens opened and dumped solid sheets of rain. It took us over an hour to get 7 km!!!! The road was a river, Livingstone at times couldn’t see at all and we just had to stop – it was unbelievable
And here I sit an hour later on the deck -clear skies savouring a g&t